Leaked Frank Luntz memo – Israeli public diplomacy in US on Flotilla failed dismally 5Jul10 July 6, 2010

Coteret -  5 July 2010

The Israel Project, a US Hasbara outfit, commissioned Republican political consultant Frank Luntz to examine the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy in the US on the Flotilla debacle. TIP gave the memo to the Prime Minister’s Office, where someone promptly leaked it to Chico Menashe, Channel Ten TV News diplomatic affairs correspondent. Luntz’s findings are grim. Here’s a summary:

1. 56% of USAians agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza;
2. 43% of USAians agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving;
3. Only 34% of USAians support the Israeli operation against the Flotilla;
4. Only 20% of USAians “felt support” for Israel following announcement of easing of Gaza closure.
Below is the full translated transcript of the report, and beneath that is the video.

Frank Luntz analyses Netanyahu’s media performance in the flotilla affair
Channel Ten TV News, Jul 1 2010

Yaacov Eilon (host): Netanyahu is considered to make an extremely persuasive presentation in the world press. But a professional analysis by a US expert presented yesterday to his senior aides strongly criticizes him. Netanyahu’s messages on the flotilla caused more harm than good. Our political correspondent Chico Menashe has obtained the report.

Chico Menashe: Criticism of Netanyahu’s current PR messages and Israeli PR in general comes from the international elite of media consultants and pollsters and from the mouth of Frank Luntz, considered one of the leading US political consultants, a Republican pollster, a consultant to many governments throughout the world and to dozens of the biggest corporations in the US. He was asked by the Israel Project to check the opinions of the US public on the messages Israel issued to the world during and after the flotilla events. The result is a harsh document that primarily criticizes the media strategy of the person considered Israel’s number one propagandist in the world, Netanyahu.

Netanyahu: Once again Israel faces hypocrisy and a biased rush to judgment.

Chico Menashe: Every time Israeli speakers begin with accusing the international community, writes Luntz, they lose their audience. For example, Netanyahu’s comments after the flotilla about the world hypocrisy were rejected by most of the US participants who listened to them. The findings were presented last night to senior members of Netanyahu’s Bureau. Luntz checked the opinions with focus groups, not a poll. He warns of a dangerous slide in the public opinion of the only country considered pro-Israeli, the US. Israel misses simple opportunities to change world public opinion, he writes, and the consequences are significant. The US public increasingly hesitates to accept arguments that support Israeli positions.

Ehud Barak: There is no hunger in Gaza and no humanitarian crisis.

Netanyahu: There’s no shortage of food, there’s no shortage of medicine, there’s no shortage of other goods.

Chico Menashe: Luntz says Israel must immediately stop using the argument that there is no hunger and no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He says this fatally destroys Israel’s credibility in light of the images on the television screens. Israel must admit that there is a problem, he says, to gain the listeners’ sympathy. Luntz finds the troubling figure that 56% of participants agree with the claim that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and no less astonishing is that 43% of participants from the US public agree with the claim that people in Gaza are starving. But even lifting the closure that was supposed to improve Israel’s image missed the opportunity, according to Luntz.

Netanyahu: Yesterday an important decision was made by the security cabinet. Its meaning is clear. On the one hand, allowing civilian goods into Gaza, and on the other hand maintaining the military blockade of Hamas.

Chico Menashe: The statement by Netanyahu’s bureau of lifting the closure missed the opportunity to gain support in international public opinion. Only 20% of the Americans polled felt support of Israel following the statement. According to Luntz, this is the summary of the flotilla damage in US public opinion: Only 34% of the US public support the Israeli operation against the flotilla, and he says that is a dangerously low percentage. The figures are troubling and worrisome. If that is the situation with our great friend the US, it is easy to imagine the situation in other, somewhat less sympathetic countries.


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